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Small travel businesses look to net

With the summer of 2006 in full gear, small travel and tourism businesses are experiencing strong levels of visitors and customers. According to the 2006 Travel and Tourism Outlook(a) survey from Constant Contact(R) , 80 percent of small travel and tourism businesses said reservations were at or above last year’s levels (37 percent and 43 percent respectively). With 84 percent expecting more online sales in 2006, the majority of small travel and tourism businesses today are using several methods of online marketing. In fact, 95 percent surveyed maintain a website, with 80 percent using email marketing to drive website traffic and to promote special offers. Constant Contact ( ) is the leading email marketing service for small businesses, associations, and nonprofits.

Small businesses look to the Internet for marketing:

As the travel industry continues to grow, consumers have more and more options to research and book vacations with small travel and tourism businesses, especially since more of these businesses are now using online marketing methods, helping them stay in touch with local customers. In fact, the survey results revealed that 62 percent also offer online booking options to provide consumers with the online convenience they’ve come to expect.

Other findings of note regarding competitive pressures on smaller travel businesses revealed that 74 percent of those polled said that large online travel sites have not negatively impacted their sales. What then are owners of small travel/tourism companies worried about? According to the survey, nearly 50 percent believe high fuel prices have hurt their businesses.

“The survey results show that U.S. small travel businesses are thriving, especially now, during the summer months,” said Gail Goodman, CEO, Constant Contact. “The survey also indicates that the strong health of these businesses can be attributed to their adoption of online marketing methods - as the Internet has helped them reach more current and prospective customers to help grow their businesses.”


Top challenges facing small travel and tourism businesses:

In addition to concerns about rising fuel costs, 48 percent of small travel and tourism businesses surveyed said finding new customers was their biggest challenge. Filling reservations during the off-season (23 percent) came in as the second biggest challenge, followed by competing with online travel sites (18 percent), and getting repeat business from current customers (11 percent).

Small businesses reveal consumer vacation trends:

According to the survey, small travel and tourism businesses said the average summer vacation lasts one to two weeks (52 percent). Businesses surveyed also noted that families (56 percent) make up their largest percentage of customers - next largest was retired couples at 19 percent.

In addition, small travel and tourism business owners revealed that while summer (48 percent) and winter (23 percent) are their busiest seasons, there is opportunity year-round for sales - fall and spring ranked as having the greatest impact for 15 percent and 14 percent, respectively, of businesses.